From Jamaican gangstas to a hopeful United States presidential candidate, the group exhibition Boys of Summer considers the representation of the male in contemporary art. The work, done in a variety of media by a diverse range of artists, depicts a multitude of men, some identifiable, others stereotypical or purely imagined. Issues of sexuality and power are present, but these contemporary representations go beyond to also investigate questions of race and class. Whether these artists portray men as objects of desire, symbols of hope, or signs of otherness, their loaded work underscores the power of representational images and our society’s cultural consumption of them.
Nick Cave (American, born 1959) is a Chicago-based multimedia and performance artist and fashion designer. His large color photographs feature the African American artist dawning ambiguous masks. Immediately questioning the viewer’s race assumptions, the masks look at once like a robber’s ski mask and an ethnographic object. Cave earned his MFA at Cranbrook Academy of Art and is currently a tenured instructor at the School of the Art Institute. Recent solo exhibitions include the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, FL 2007, the Chicago Cultural Center 2006, and Jack Shainman Gallery NY 2006 among others. His work has been in important group exhibitions including Black Alphabet: Contexts of Contemporary African-American Art at The Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, Poland 2006 and Frequency curated by Thelma Golden and Christine Kim at the Studio Museum in Harlem 2005. In 2006 he was a recipient of the coveted Joyce Foundation Joyce Award. His work can be found in the permanent collections of the Portland Art Museum, OR, the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA, and the Seattle Art Museum, WA.
James Gobel’s (American, born 1972) vibrantly elaborate paintings of “bears,” or heavyset gay men, balance a gentle humor with sensuality and a loving sensitivity. Adorned with felt, yarn and fabric, the delicately pieced together paintings recall traditionally feminine crafts like quilting, yet their imagery is typically masculine. Gobel begins his creative process with photographs of people, but his final images are hybrids, portraying types rather than specific individuals. Gobel earned his MFA at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Gobel has mounted solo exhibitions at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, the Hayworth Gallery, Los Angeles, Marx & Zavattero, San Francisco, and Kravets/Wehby Gallery, NY. Gobel’s work has been reviewed and featured in Art in America, ARTnews, Artforum, Flash Art, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Metro.Pop, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Bay Guardian, SF Weekly, Beautiful Decay, Flaunt, Zink, and The Believer, among many other publications.
Zane Lewis (American, born 1981) creates large scale images of pop culture icons, ranging from the Pope to Brangelina, begging questions of modern day worship. For Obama, 2007, he carefully spilt, pooled and mixed paint before fashioning the politician’s head with a knife. Baraka Obama, Charles Manson and Kim Jong II are three of Lewis’s portraits in his newest series Apostles. Lewis received his BFA from the Atlanta College of Art. He has mounted solo exhibitions at galleries such as Mixed Greens, NY; Romo, Atlanta; Finesilver, San Antonio; and Saltworks, Atlanta. His work has been included in group exhibitions at institutions such as the Mobile Museum of Art, Mobile, AL; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; and Museum of Contemporary Art, GA.
In her Gangstas for Life series, Ebony Patterson (Jamaican, born 1981) depicts well-known Jamaican criminals. In doing so, she explores contemporary notions of male beauty within a Jamaican context. Specifically, the series highlights that fashionable practice of skin bleaching within the culture of the dancehall, a place of major cultural significance among young working class Jamaicans. Patterson earned her MFA in 2006 from the Sam Fox College of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis. Since 2005 she has had solo exhibitions at See Line Gallery, Santa Monica, CA; Mutual Gallery, Jamaica; and the UC Gallery, University of Montana. In 2007 her work was featured in the group exhibition Infinite Island: Contemporary Caribbean curated by Tumelo Mosaka at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and in 2006 she was included in the Jamaica Biennial at the National Gallery of Jamaica. She is currently in residency at the Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT.
The exhibition continues into mmg’s project space with works by Carlos Aires (Spanish, born 1974), Oscar Cueto (Mexican, born 1976), Russell Nachman (American, born), and more!